Reflections on Southern Africa Hub Meeting

By: Mariana Gallo, Knowledge Management Officer CCODE; Nico Keijzer, LME Officer Southern Africa SDI; & Noah Schermbrucker, Projects Officer SDI 

The recent regional hub meeting for Southern Africa took place in Blantyre, Malawi, from 28-31st March 2015. It was the first time that Blanytre or Malawi have hosted a regional hub meeting and provided an opportunity for the Malawian alliance to showcase their work. Participants from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. Botswana was invited but not able to attend.

Country Reports and Field Visits

The day commenced with each country reporting on their key indicators using the new Learning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (LME) reporting format. All countries concurred that this format assisted them in measuring progress, setting realistic targets, identifying challenges, and more targeted learning to overcome them. For the first time the hub was able to produce accurate totals for Southern Africa – as illustrated in the below table.

Southern African Hub Totals
Baseline Target Achieved Total
Members  161 961,00  8 765,00  7 084,00  169 045,00
Savings Groups 2490 300 217 2707
Daily Savings  4 354 901,00  829 755,00  287 494,00  4 642 395,00
UPF Savings  1 960 417,00  210 099,00  127 794,00  2 088 211,00
Settlement Profiles 1553 445 316 1869
City-wide profiles 123 32 3 126
Enumerations 294 50 47 341
Maps – GIS 109 306 207 316
Maps – Hand drawn 15 24 10 25

A variety of field visits also took place. Those who visited Nancholi settlement learnt about the slum upgrading activities that were being undertaken by the federation. Work included the construction of bridges, the development of an agricultural market, the renovation of a local clinic, and the construction of additional blocks for the local secondary school. Other delegates visited a variety of groups who were involved in income generation projects. One group called “Waste for Wealth” produces and sells compost. Another group makes sausages that they package and sell, while a third group makes and sells tie-dye clothes.

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.

City Council and Discussions on Country Projects

On the third day, hub delegates visited the Blantyre City Council for a meeting with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development for Blantyre, and other officials. While the meeting illustrated the successful partnership between the Malawian Alliance and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) it became clear, through the lively discussions that took place, that these types of partnerships need to be underpinned by material commitments from government (e.g. land, budgetary allocations for slum upgrading). The international delegation pushed the BCC around its previous commitments to establish a citywide slum-upgrading fund. The Malawian federation needs to follow up on the space opened by this discussion.

The meeting attracted media attention, and was reported on the front page of one of the main newspapers on the following day.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.

The afternoon’s sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect more deeply on their LME process. Not only in terms of challenges identified but feasible actions to address these issues. Below is an example of this work that the hub collectively committed to implementing over the next period. Outcomes will be reported at the next hub meeting.


1) Unrealistic targets,

2) Understanding of enumerations process or profiling is difficult,

3) Not having a system of reporting,

4) Politics delays the process,

5) Working with other stakeholders is always difficult and can delay the whole process,

6) Changing the mindset of people who expect a lot of money as some organisation does,

7) Slow implementation of projects,

8) Not practicing daily savings.

Possible Solutions:

1)     Setting of realistic targets within a specific period of time,

2)     Drawing of process maps – steps involved in saving, profiling, enumeration etc.,

3)     Mobilizing communities on why they are doing the profiling, enumeration etc.,

4)     Having standard reporting templates/systems,

5)     Signing of MOU’s (exchange visits among municipal/local officials),

6)     Joint working groups that involves stakeholders,

7)     Communities must take ownership and drive the change in the community,

8)     Communities should have one voice in getting resources from local authorities,

9)     Going back to the roots of daily savings.  Take ownership of savings and how the money is managed to build confidence.


Data, Reflections on Donor Funding, Exchanges, and Closing

The final day commenced with a presentation on the data platform from the SDI Secretariat. Federations were able to access, discuss and interact with the online platform that stores their profiling information. This is part of a process to deepen federation ownership of the information collected.

An interesting and important discussion, which is central to the work of all federations and affiliates, then took place.  The crux if this discussion is that while it is recognised that donor funding is needed for activities, the agenda and priorities of donors can sometimes be in conflict with the federation’s core vision (e.g. building unaffordable housing on the periphery of the city).  Broken into country groups delegates discussed criteria for accepting donor funding. Flexibility, equal partnerships, common vision and inclusion of the poorest were amongst the common points of consideration.

The meeting closed with a collective reflection session that gave delegates an opportunity to assess the content and structure of the hub meeting.  More substantive details can be found in the hub report. The next hub meeting was set for September in Zimbabwe.

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing.

Zimbabwe federation holds forum, Southern African hub meets

Zimbabwe forum 2011

By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter

The Zimbabwean Alliance hosted the second National Forum whose theme was ‘strengthening our process through savings’. The Forum which was held in the Midlands Province in Gweru was attended by Federation members from the seven regions namely Harare, Matebeleland South Matebeleland North, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Midlands.

SDI affiliates from South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Zambia graced the occasion and assisted greatly with the discussions. The Forum’s main agenda involved presentation of regional reports, reflection on the Federation rituals and drafting of regional work-plans.

The various regions reported how they had expanded the Federation coverage through opening savings schemes in new areas. In areas around Harare, new initiatives like Shamva, Bindura, Guruve and Marondera had now been mobilised whilst Matebeleland South now encorporated areas that include Plumtree, Kezi, Gwambe, Esigodini and Tsholotsho. The countrywide mobilisation of new areas had seen uMfelandawonye chapters grow from 32 areas in 2008 to the current 54 areas. The different regions also reported on the establishment of networks in their areas – a strategy that had seen participation of more members and strengthening of groups through breaking regions into smaller clusters. Networks were also reported to be facilitating the decentralisation of regional budgets.

A majority of savings schemes outlined how they had started the creative usage of savings through the mobilisation of money for buying groceries, pre-purchasing building materials and availing loans for business projects. Some of the products from the business ventures were also on display at the Forum. Harare region, for instance, showcased products from a project that was producing building materials and herbal medicines. The various regions also highlighted that the move to ensure the immediate usage of savings had been necessitated by the lack of trust in the banking sector.

The regional reports were then followed by specific presentations on the Federation rituals and components. Under the health component, it was reported that a pilot mobile clinic had been set up and been functional for close to three months. The clinic was currently stationed at the Crowborough Federation resource centre catering for the wider community as well.

The presentation on land noted that negotiations with both central and local government institutions had since yielded a total of around 5354 stands across the country. Infrastructure was however reported to be the biggest challenge hence there was a now a well-coordinated campaign for alternatives like boreholes and ecological sanitation units. Whilst on one hand lobbying was going on with officials to have buy-in, the Federation’s capacity to build the eco-san toilets was being developed through training sessions and exchange visits. Seven artisans training sessions have so far been conducted in the country’s six regions.

Enumerations as a powerful tool for negotiations had been expanded and sharpened to include mapping. The national enumeration team reported how they had started building and strengthening their teams in preparation for a number of surveys as well as the Harare Slum Upgrading Programme. Lastly, the Forum participants then grouped according to the regions in order to prepare regional work plans on the basis of the different areas’ priorities.

Southern African hub meeting

Consistent with current practice with other SDI hubs, the Southern Hub of Africa met in Zimbabwe around the latter’s National Forum. The five SDI affiliates in attendance appraised each other through country reports.

The Malawians provided feedback pertaining to their National Forum held in 2010 and thanked the other affiliates for their support. The Malawians also reported on a series of exchanges around water and sanitation that had taken place with Zimbabwe. The activities in Malawi had also started to have impact on policy as shown by the Malawian government’s Growth and Development Strategy which was modelled around the Federation concept.

The Zambians indicated that they were currently busy with a number of housing projects as well as building resource centres hence they had plans to strengthen their capacity through artisans training programmes. In addition, the Zambians had scheduled two Forums on Housing and Health in the first half of the year which drew a lot of interest from other affiliates.

In Swaziland, the need for Federation strengthening emerged as the main priority although it was mentioned that interaction with central and local government had significantly improved. A national forum held in December inn Swaziland had helped to boost the savings schemes.

In Harare, the Federation was implementing Slum Upgrading Project in partnership with the City of Harare and already an exchange had taken place with the Malawians around this project. The Zimbabweans noted that there were plans to scale up current health programmes.

In Namibia, a countrywide 5-year programme (Community Land Information Programme CLIP) documenting informal settlements, was reported to be underway. The Namibians also informed the meeting about the pending programmes aimed at supporting the emerging process in Angola.

The South Africans invited other affiliates to their National Forum earmarked for March 2011. In particular, FEDUP requested support on health issues from other affiliates during the Forum.

After the country reports the meeting then went on to discuss the UPFI call for proposals whose sum total for the entire hub was US$100000.00 with a repayment period of 3 years. The affiliates discussed the terms for accessing UPFI funds and the following country-level issues were noted as the basis for allocation;

  • Fully-fledged status
  • Existing city-wide processes
  • Existing revolving community-based loan fund
  • Existing country-wide network of federations
  • Existing partnerships with government.

On the project level, the following specific considerations were observed as critical for the disbursement of funds;

  • Impact – the extent to which a project will yield results and benefit members
  • Policy – the extent to which a project will influence central and local government policy
  • Leverage – the extent to which a project has scope to attract additional resources
  • Innovation – the extent to which the resources will go towards new alternative
  • Sustainability – the extent to which the resources will go beyond the project period

In the end, the affiliates agreed on the following allocations for the UPFI call;

Country Loan Amount Project Description
South Africa US$40000.00 Housing project in North West Province
Zambia US$20000.00 Completion of Federation resource centre in Lusaka
Malawi US$20000.00 Construction of Chinsapo Community Hall
Zimbabwe US$20000.00 Scaling up of the health initiative in Harare

*Namibia did not have a proposal during the time of meeting

The following exchange programmes for the hub were planned for the year 2011.

Visiting Countries Destination Country
Malawi and South Africa

Malawi and Zambia

South Africa and Zambia

South Africa and Namibia Swaziland
Zimbabwe and Malawi South Africa
Swaziland and Zambia Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Francistown
South Africa Gaborone